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  • Writer's pictureCamara Inglis


Another instalment to the Uni story chronicles. My housemate Jas wrote the last sentence, though I did have to add a little bit to the end so it made a bit more sense. It's slightly longer than the other stories and I found it a bit harder to write, but as always let me know what you think by leaving a like or comment and I hope you enjoy!

I was always prepared for the day when my youth would run out; it happened near 15 years ago. Facials, routine Botox and the occasional nip and tuck helped, but now, this all seemed so futile. I’m not sure what the final push was that made me think this procedure would be a good idea, but here I am; 79 years old about to truly feel young again.

I turned my head to the sound of the opening door and saw my doctor walk through it with a wide, white-toothed smile plastered to his youthful, brown face. He took a seat at his desk opposite me and opened a dark blue folder that read my name: DEBORAH MATTHEWS. He flicked through it until he found the page he was looking for. He slid a piece of paper out of its plastic wallet, closed the folder and pushed the paper across the desk to me. Dr Shah was straight to business as always.

“Are you ready?” He asked. Am I ready? I thought to myself, ready to be forever young.

“Sign it.” A strong, firm voice from behind me called. That would be Vince, my husband. I turned around to look at him. He sat at the back of the doctor’s room, with folded arms and white bandages wrapped across his face. A dark blue blindfold covered his eyes.

We promised we’d do the reveal together.

As if he could feel me looking at him, Vince leant forward in his chair and in a softer tone said, “just sign it darling. You know it’s going to be worth it.” Interesting, I thought, his voice still sounds the same.

I turned back around to face my doctor and looked at his smiling, yet impatient face. I sighed and picked out a pen from his metal pot and studied the paper on the desk in front of me. Why was I so hesitant to sign? How many times had I wished I could have a do-over? This was the perfect chance.

I sucked in a small breath and signed my name at the bottom of the paper.

Dr Shah finally smiled the first genuine smile I had seen him give him all day, “excellent Debby. We’ll get you ready now.” He took the paper from in front of me and slid it back into its place in my folder. He stood up from behind his desk and outstretched his hand. I took it to stand.

“Vince, we will be a couple of hours. You can go back to your room now and we will wake you for the reveal.” He said to my husband. I turned to look at Vince who nodded in response. Dr Shah walked me to the door and opened it. He called out to a nurse in the hallway. “Take Mr Matthews back to his room until we are ready,” he ordered. The brunette nurse nodded and opened the door further to squeeze past us as Dr Shah walked me away and down the hall.

Dr Shah held a hand to my back and led me down a dimly lit the corridor until we reached a white door marked “CHANGING ROOM 3.” He let go of my back and turned to face me as he spoke. “Inside is a gown you will need to wear, change into that. The nurse will be back in five minutes to come and collect you.” He opened the door to let me in, gave a short nod of his head and then turned away to let the door thud close behind me. I stepped further into the room and looked around.

It was a tiny box room, painted an ugly yellow and had barely any furniture in. A sole mirror hung on the wall and in its reflection I could see a wooden brown bench that had a folded light blue gown on it. I walked over to the bench and began to undress myself. I picked up the gown, but just before I put it on, I turned to face the mirror and studied my face. My skin seemed paler than usual in the harsh light that hung above me and I could truly see how much I had aged. I gently touched a finger to my cheeks. The Botox was good until it wasn’t, I thought to myself, as I traced wrinkles stemming from the corner of my eyes. Creases had started to form in my forehead and my once thick, blonde hair was now a wispy white. I sighed and decided to get changed. I pulled the gown over my head just as I heard a knock at the door.

They were ready for me.

The same young, brunette nurse that had tended to my husband had now come for me and she stood in the doorway. “I’m here to take you down for surgery,” she informed me. I nodded and turned my back to her to fold my clothes and put them on the bench. I heard the nurse laugh behind me. I turned to face her and a smile played on her lips, “you really don’t need to do that, it’s not like you’re going to be wearing that again.” I joined in her laughter with a forced smile and walked over to her. Everything felt so real all of a sudden.

She led me further down the dark hallway in silence. We reached a white door marked “SURGERY ROOM 3” and I took a shaky breath. I looked through the square window in the door and saw Dr Shah in his scrubs ready for my surgery.

You know,” the nurse said, sensing my apprehension, “there’s no need to be scared. I’ll let you in on a secret.” She leaned forward to whisper it to me. “I was in your exact position just three months ago, and it was terrifying, but it was the best thing I’ve ever done. I promise you won’t regret it.” I looked up at her and her light brown eyes sparkled back at me as she gave me a reassuring nod.

“Thank you,” I whispered. She smiled in response and pushed the door open for me. I stepped in and Dr Shah’s eyes looked up to meet mine. He wore green scrubs and white gloves, a white mask also covered his face. He beckoned me over with the wave of his hand and motioned for me to lie on the metal bed in front of him. I did as a I was told.

“Now Deborah,” came Dr Shah’s muffled voice. “I’m going to give you some anaesthetic and I want you to count backwards from 10. When you wake up, everything will be perfect.” I looked up at Dr Shah’s face peering down on me and he titled his head to the side, as if asking whether I understood. “Okay.” I said. “Okay, I’m ready.” Dr Shah slipped a breathing mask over my mouth and nodded at me to begin counting.

“10.” Was this the right thing to do?

“9.” Too late to back out now.

“8. 7.” My eyes felt so heavy.

“6.” I was almost positive I heard the door of operating room open.

“5.” Being wheeled in, was the naked body of a young blonde girl on a metal table.

“4.” Her body was perfect.

"3." I remember when I looked like that.

2." My eyes started to swim out of focus.

Had I imagined her? I closed my eyes to clear my vision...

I opened my eyes slowly and Dr Shah was once again stood over me. Except now, he was out of his scrubs and wore a white shirt tucked into grey chequered trousers. Was it over already? I don’t even remember falling asleep. As if reading my thoughts, Dr Shah walked over to the end of my bed and perched himself on the edge. He gently lay a hand on my leg which lay under a white blanket.

“The surgery was a success.” He softly informed me, with a smile in his voice. “Vince is waiting in the reveal room for you, let me take you. But first, these.” Dr Shah held up a blindfold identical to my husband’s and placed it over my eyes.

I felt him pull the blanket off my legs and grip my hand to help me off of the bed. He led me out of the room we were in and the only sound that followed was the sound of my bare feet against the cold floor.

Suddenly Dr Shah dropped my hand and we abruptly stopped walking. I heard him type something into a keypad and then the sound of beeping, followed by a whooshing noise as the door in front of us opened. Dr Shah took my hand once more and we walked into the room.

“Hi honey.” It was Vince’s voice. Dr Shah let go of my hand and slipped it into Vince’s. He squeezed my hand. “Are you ready?” He whispered. I let out a steadying breath. “As I’ll ever be,” I whispered back.

“Okay,” came Dr Shah’s voice behind us, “now if you’re ready, take your blindfolds off. 3..2…1.” I felt Vince let go of my hand. With shaky hands I took my blindfold off, but I was not ready to see the face in the mirror looking back at me.

I heard Vince let out a belly laugh next to me. “I can’t believe it!” He exclaimed. Behind me, I could see Vince had turned around and was embracing Dr Shah who wore a smug grin on his face. I couldn’t believe it either.

I walked closer to the mirror and touched the face staring back at me. My cheeks were perky and plump, my cheekbones strong. Not one wrinkle lined my face. Bright blue eyes blazed back at me and my blonde hair had been restored. Vibrant, authentic youth oozed from every pore. But this wasn’t my body.

What had I agreed to?

I looked down at the rest of my body. My arms were strong and athletic, the legs that peaked out from underneath my gown were long and slim, not one blemish marked my new body. The face staring at me was just a child compared to me. 22, 23, if that. I really was young again.

But this wasn’t me. My mind told me I was Deborah Matthews but the face of the woman looking back at me was not. This "reveal" just told me I, as Deborah Matthews, no longer existed.

I had never regretted anything more.

My eyes closed in rejection to the image before me. Maybe if I squeezed them tight enough I would wake up back in my body, my real body and this would just be one horrible nightmare. I opened my eyes, but the figure staring back at me did not change. I had woken up and I was standing in my brain, inhabiting the body of a stranger.

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